Bottlers drag their feet on updating safety measures

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 13, 2018-

Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottlers have been delaying upgrading safety measures in their plants citing lack of necessary equipment. As a result, they have not received Nepal Standard (NS) certification which was made mandatory following a massive fire at a gas plant in Parsa last December in which three persons were killed.

Among the 55 LPG bottling plants in Nepal, only eight have obtained the NS mark. The last date for obtaining certification expired in February.

Last month, the Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) warned gas bottlers that they face being shut down if they delay obtaining NS certification. Following the regulator’s warning, all of them applied to the NBSM for certification; but most of them have been moving slowly to fulfil the requirements saying that certain instruments had to be imported.

Devendra KC, assistant information officer at the NBSM, said many LPG bottlers had been complaining about difficulties in installing gas leakage detectors as the devices had to be imported from India.

“In addition, the bottling plants have been making all kinds of excuses for not digging water storage tanks, which is one of the requirements for receiving the NS mark,” KC said. According to him, the companies need to construct tanks to store a minimum of 600,000 litres of water for emergencies.  

The NBSM said it had recently conducted a second round audit of only nine other companies. “The rest of the bottlers are yet to fulfill the guidelines prescribed by the bureau during the first audit,” KC said.

The NS mark was made compulsory for LPG plants after a massive fire destroyed Super Gas Factory at Sukhasaina, Parsa last December and killed three firefighters. The fire was blamed on carelessness. The NBSM ordered all LPG plants to upgrade their safety measures within two months.

The gas bottlers need to install advanced equipment for compact valve testing and hydraulic testing to meet the requirement to receive the NS mark.  As per the NBSM directive, gas bottling plants must hire adequate technical human resources and follow safety measures to handle emergency situations on their premises. The plants should also have adequate space to refill and store gas cylinders.

In addition, the gas bottling plants need to develop a mechanism to examine their LPG cylinders on a regular basis and check the thickness of the cylinder wall, sludge deposit, valve safety and safety caps, among others. LPG bottlers are required to conduct hydraulic and leakage tests before they deliver filled cylinders to their dealers.

Earlier in November 2016, the bureau had enforced the LPG Bottling Plant Operation Standards and directed gas plants to obtain NS certification within three months. At that time, only four gas bottlers applied for NS certificates and obtained them. They are Manoj Gas Industry of Birgunj, Shree Krishna Gas Industry of Dhading, Sai Baba Gas Industry of Dhading and Nepal Gas Industry of Balaju. Only four other companies have received certification in the past one and a half years. They are NL Gas of Birgunj, Janaki Gas of Nawalparasi and Metro Gas of Kathmandu. Maruti Gas of Sunsari obtained the NS mark recently.

Published: 13-04-2018 09:02

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